Construction work for a giant concrete fort that will protect the rare Tanzanite gemstone mining quarries at the Mirerani Hills in Simanjiro District has been completed two months ahead of its scheduled date.
Notorious smuggling of Tanzanite Gemstones is what prompted the government to erect a wall surrounding the mineral extracting zone in Mirerani, which will stretch nearly 25km.
According to its engineers, the ‘Great Mirerani Wall’ is possibly the longest fort ever built in the country, or possibly the entire East African Region.
Recent reports indicate that Tanzanite Gemstones worth nearly 700 billion Tanzanian shillings are smuggled out of the country annually through illegal means with most of the stones ending up in the neighbouring country of Kenya and some as far as India and South Africa.
The Commanding Officer in-charge of the construction, Colonel Charles Mbuge said the wall project started in November last year and was scheduled to be completed on the 30th of April 2018.
“Originally the works were to take six months, from the 1st of November 2017 to the 30th of April 2018, however the wall will be completed before the 15th of February 2018,” said the Commanding Officer, who was briefing the two Deputy Ministers for Minerals, Stanslaus Nyongo and Dotto Biteko while visiting Mirerani yesterday in Simanjiro.
Mbuge added that the project will cost approximately 5.65 billion Tanzania shillings when complete. “So far, the government has spent 5 billion shillings,” he said.
He said next would follow installation of surveillance cameras and other electronic monitoring devices, insisting that despite running nearly 25km, there would be just one gate to serve both as entry and exit point.
The Simanjiro District Commissioner, Engineer Zephania Chaula explained that, in addition to the wall construction, the authorities have started issuing Identity cards for people who work in the mines and so far, 6000 miners have been issued with such IDs.
“We have also directed all quarry owners to provide their employees with official contracts unlike in the past when they used to hire them on temporary basis,” said Chaula, adding that already 2000 miners have been issued with contracts.
On their part, both the Deputy Ministers lauded the army for the good work, pointing out that, if the project had been undertaken by private firms, the wall would have taken years to complete and the cost could have been ten times more.